The Ashura Festival in Morocco (often spelled: “achoura”) is truly a festival for kids… and kids at heart! Kids all get new toys, as well as the staple Darbuka (a goblet drum) and Berrada (a clay piggy bank). Kids go from playing music and eating healthy treats, like fakia, to playing with water.
But there is so much more to the Ashura Festival in Morocco than just drums and toys! Ashura is a perfect example of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in Morocco, deeply rooted in values of tolerance and coexistence.
The long history of Morocco is filled with characters that seem to leap off the page. Perhaps none more so than the Sultan Moulay Ismail. At once feared and respected, villainized and lionized, this Moroccan sultan literally stood head and shoulders above other world leaders. His tall, lithe figure cut bright through his palaces—particularly on beheading days when his flowing saffron-yellow robes reflected the high noon sun of the Middle Atlas, framing his dark features. The sultan’s wrath, his justice, inevitable, like the fire-rimmed eclipse of the moon gliding over the sun. (more…)
“What should I wear?” – I often get this question from travelers coming to Morocco, particularly women, wondering what to wear in Morocco. While the country does not have a dress code, it is always a good thing to understand the culture before packing your suitcase.(more…)
Tangier is a history full of odd ducks and strange corners of history. You probably know that for the first half of the 20th century, it was a popular haunt for oil barons and shipping magnates, bankers and spies, thieves and artists. (more…)
Music and dance are an integral part of Moroccan life. During a trip to Morocco, you may witness processions of dancing villagers parading through the streets, or you might be kept awake late at night by the sound of rhythmic drums and the piercing ululations of wedding celebrations. While music and dance in Morocco can usually be categorized as indigenous Berber or classical Arab, you will also see and hear African, European and Jewish influences in these traditional art forms. Whatever the origins, dancing in Morocco has a long, storied heritage. (more…)
When traveling abroad, if you take the time to seek out and learn about local traditions, you’ll glimpse a window into what shapes a place and its culture. Sometimes these local traditions take the form of particular foods prepared in specific ways. Other times they might be a certain form of dress, community festivals, day-to-day routines, and music. All of which may seem exotic to visitors. But to locals, these typical traditions might seem to be rather hum-drum affairs or something they take great pride in. Here are a few things you should know about some of the more typical traditions in Morocco you can expect to find on your journey. (more…)
Photography in Morocco is known among photographers for being extremely challenging. Though in some part this is because of the natural elements, such as sand in the desert and snow on the mountains, what can really make photography difficult in Morocco are the people of Morocco! (more…)
Many visitors fly into Morocco perhaps not even aware that travel to and from Morocco’s neighboring countries is possible! Anyone can easily extend their visits to include Spain, the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the UK exclave of Gibraltar, or even the Canary Islands. Though travel to Mauritania and the disputed Moroccan territory Western Sahara takes more planning, and considerable caution, adventurous travelers can even add these stops to their Morocco itinerary. (more…)
Tangier rests on a strange, wayward little corner of Africa. It is a great accident of history and privileged geography, having been the first stop in Africa for many people from around the world, as well as many foreigner’s first experience with a muslim culture. It has played host for thousands of years. “Much of Tangier’s history,” Richard Hamilton writes, “is a chronology of foreigners and exiles.” In fact, one could do a tour of Tangier solely on these misfits of history. These exiles have long been welcomed to promenade along the famed terrace of soor magazine, where 150 year-old cannons thrust out, down through the chaotic souks and on to the long stretch of sand along the bay. (more…)
Update: In September 2016, this iconic rock arch collapsed due to erosion. There is still an arch on the beach, but this one currently no longer exists.
Morocco is a country filled with beautiful hidden gems and Legzira Beach and its famous Rock Arch are undoubtedly a part of this collection. Tucked away between the two small towns of Mirleft and Sidi Ifni, Legzira Rock Arch Beach in Morocco’s southern Atlantic Coast is known as one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Africa. Like its other Atlantic counterparts, the 8km of sandy coast are windy, rocky and expansive. But they also hold a unique charm. (more…)
Halal tourism is a relatively new term and style of travel. It refers to meeting the needs and desires of Muslim tourists by providing services and amenities that Muslim travelers desire. There is no standard definition of defines an experience as falling into the category of halal travel, but several components stand out. In the most recent poll by Crescentranking, one of the first companies to provide rankings of Muslim-friendly destinations, they listed Morocco as the sixth most “halal friendly” travel destination. (more…)
Unless you already speak Arabic, you may be wondering how to best communicate with locals when you Morocco travel. As with any population, Moroccans tend to appreciate visitors who attempt to speak their language. However, in Morocco, Arabic is not your only option! (more…)
There are very few places on Earth that compare to the incredible landscapes you’ll see visiting the Sahara Desert. Running roughly north-south along Morocco’s eastern border with neighboring Algeria, the Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert. In fact, the Sahara covers an area roughly the size of the entire United States. Many travelers visit Morocco specifically with the intention of venturing off into the desert and spending a night under the stars. And we can’t blame them! A desert adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on.(more…)
Less than 15 kilometers south of mainland Europe, across the Strait of Gibraltar, is Morocco – a fantastic destination of sand dunes, beaches, crowded markets, resort towns and jaw-dropping mountains. Morocco is a beautiful country and has a way of engaging all your senses, making it a place that is without a doubt worth a visit. Though Morocco has a reputation as a great destination for many sorts of travelers, Morocco is not well known for being a particularly gay-friendly destination like, say, Costa Rica. However, doesn’t mean that it’s completely lacking in LGBTQ tourism.
Ramadan is the month-long Islamic holiday celebrated each year. The Islamic calendar follows a lunar pattern so every year Ramadan moves 10 days forward on the Gregorian calendar each year. This year, Ramadan falls in the end of April – end of May. This is usually a high season for travelers visiting Morocco, though this year the country will be shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. While many people balk at visiting during Ramadan, anticipating problems or inconveniences, there’s no reason to put aside your plans. In fact, for the culturally curious, Ramadan might just be the best time of year to visit! However, before you begin your trip, it is important to know a few things about Ramadan. Here are a few things that will likely affect your visit, hopefully for the better! (more…)
You are headed to the African nation of Morocco. Your Moroccan tour operator has told you about visiting Berber villages. You have heard all about the Berber craftsmen, their knowledge of the land, some of their indestructible history and maybe a bit more. Or perhaps you’ve never heard of them at all. Just who are these Berber people? In short, in Morocco, the Berbers are a pre-Arab culture that has ruled unperturbed and unconquered for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at this amazing people! (more…)
Call it what you will — COVID 19; Coronavirus; Novel Coronavirus; the Wuhan Virus — whatever name want to use, this new virus definitely has people in a panic. Stock markets are on a rollercoaster, pharmacies have run out of face masks, churches and schools are shuttered, the NBA has cancelled its season, and now Japan has even postponed the 2020 Olympics into next year. With a little 4 year-old at home and a new baby due any day now, we’re a bit anxious about this ourselves! However, from our home base here in Tangier, we are trying to keep a sort of balanced view of this. We’ve talked with numerous doctors in the U.S., France, Spain and here in Morocco. It’s probably no surprise that every doctor we’ve talked to sees this fallout as an overreaction of sorts that has been mediatized to ill effect. At this point, we know the precautions we should be taking, but we all need to be wary of the false information that is spreading. — UPDATED May 6, 2020(more…)
Over the past few years, people have often asked me what sort of books they should read about Morocco. That’s a tough question as there are quite a few really great books about this little kingdom nestled on the northwest corner of Africa. Still, I have my favorites. What follows has been born from an email exchange with a JBT client (and fellow University of Washington alum!). It is a list of what I believe to be the Best Books about Morocco. These are my favorite by Moroccans and non-Moroccans alike. Any one of these will help you to pull back the curtain, dive straight into the souks, into the mountains and desert, and understand even more about Morocco before your plane touches down. (more…)
Three days in Marrakesh. This is the average most travelers manage to spend in the Red City. Whether you’re coming for work or pleasure, it’s almost impossible to not spend at least a couple of nights in Marrakesh. And for good reason! Marrakesh is a delight, a feast for the eyes as well as all your other senses. It’s familiar and exotic. Decadent and humble. Rustic and opulent. And it manages to be all these things, and much more, all at once. It’s a place that has to be seen to be believed. For whatever reason, two nights seems to be the magical number to spend in Marrakesh. (more…)
Morocco is an increasingly popular travel destination year-round. But as the seasons change throughout the year, so do the opportunities visitors have to experience Morocco’s culture and history. Whether you’re into water sports, mountain trekking, cultural experiences or historical sites – you’ll find that the optimal time for exploring all of these sides of Morocco can vary throughout the year. If you’re planning on visiting Morocco in summer there are a few things to keep in mind. (more…)
In the 13th century, Morocco’s own Ibn Battuta, in explorer and intrepid traveler, was the first known traveler to connect distant the northwest corner of Africa to the far East. It’s taken nearly eight centuries, but the connection these days between Beijing and Rabat is strong. With stronger political ties, many are following the route of Morocco’s most famed exploring, making the journey from China to Morocco. And make no mistake about it, in just a few short years, this recent influx of Chinese travelers to Morocco has altered the landscape of some of the most popular destinations around the country, largely because of the number of travelers from China choosing big bus tourism over smaller, more independent and sustainable travel. (more…)
Now, more than ever, it’s easy to stay connected with your loved ones back home while you’re traveling to Morocco. Sporting a very robust network, with 4g cellular capability in major cities as well as much of the countryside, you should have no problems using popular programs like WhatsApp and Facetime to keep in touch. And where 4g is unavailable, a surprisingly quick 3g connection is often found. (more…)
For many travelers “of a certain age,” Morocco holds a distinct appeal. By this time in a traveler’s life, the bustling boulevards of Paris and sun-soaked beaches of Hawaii are staid, almost dull. Morocco, in contrast, is something different, something alive and vibrant and full of new sights, sounds and smells to experience. Of course, it helps that Morocco does have its own bustling boulevards and sun-soaked beaches. But what is it like traveling to Morocco for this age group? (more…)
Marrakesh is a city like no other. Steeped in history, the North African tourist hotspot is a must experience on any serious traveler’s list of magical places to visit.The beautiful architecture, mosques, palaces, gardens, sacred ruins, charming souks, delicious food, tantalizing smells, and interesting people are what make Marrakesh such a captivating city. (more…)
Most people who visit Morocco are fascinated by the country’s incredible interior design. ‘Fairy’, ‘dreamy’ and ‘charming’ are some of the most used terms to describe Moroccan design style. Cherished and widely loved, it is copied internationally. From luxury hotels to celebrity homes, Moroccan interior design has become a staple to make homes warmer, cozier and perfect for intimate gatherings. (more…)
One of the most common questions we receive is about driving in Morocco. Is driving in Morocco is safe? Are the roads good? Do you need an international driver’s license? Is it possible to rent a good car. In short, the answers are: For the most part, Mostly,No, and Yes. (more…)
For many travelers the question isn’t if you’ll be traveling or when you’ll be traveling. It’s a matter of where you’ll be traveling. Where do you want to go on your dream vacation? Where should you spend your beach getaway to relax after a hectic month at the office? Where will you be taking that once-in-a-lifetime family trip? If you’re reading this, you probably already know where you’re going: Destination Morocco!
The Kingdom of Morocco is a diverse country with an easily recognizable and rich culture. However, when you look closely, Morocco is also a melting pot of foreign influences. The geographic position of Morocco and its history have resulted in a complex web of cultural contributions. Moroccans are extremely proud of this fact and thus view their country as open and welcoming. Apart from the recent and obvious French influence, Morocco has a strong connection to Spain. (more…)
Most people traveling internationally end up staying at least a day or two in Casablanca. After touring the towering Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco and one of the very few that non-muslims are allowed entry, maybe they take a romantic stroll along the seaside boardwalk? Maybe memorable dinner at one of Casablancas many fine-dining establishments, such as Rick’s Cafe? But then what? (more…)
Written and photographed by JBT Director, Lucas Peters, the 2nd edition of Moon Morocco is a detailed, full-colored country guidebook. Guaranteed to inspire travel lust, this edition is a wonderful companion for you while you’re in the planning stages or already in-country.
The 1st edition of Marrakesh & Beyond is a handy pocket-sized traveler. A complimentary guidebook to Moon Morocco, this guide dives deeper into the mysterious souks of the famed “Red City.” With a detailed shopping guide, handy fold-out map, and itineraries for day-tripping from Marrakesh, Lucas brings us another great resource for Morocco!